Sunday, October 28, 2018

Still in France, But On the Market Again!

After 2 years teaching at the business school, my classes had become very popular: hence, huge, and therefore tremendous work to grade and manage.  I left that position in October and have been consulting again since.  I'm still based in Lyon, but am entertaining offers of other locations and remote work!  I'm currently doing NLP data science consulting for a nice client based in London (SpiritAI).


The past couple of years have been very busy: I created from scratch and taught a lot of classes, including:
  • a 3-week Python Bootcamp
  • a very popular Business Analyst Tools class (teaching Excel data analysis, SQL, and Tableau)
  • a couple variants of courses on Python data analysis with Pandas and NLP tools
  • a Python Flask-based web database programming short course
  • and a non-coding Introduction to Artificial Intelligence for business students.

The Introduction to AI was a non-programming course, in which I tried to round up or make videos, demos, and readings that would be accessible to a non-technical business student audience.  The need for materials that explain this technology in a non-pandering, but still accessible, format to a wide audience is huge. I have a blog post about that course permanently in draft format; the worst thing about that class is the materials have become almost immediately outdated in a year.  At least, the examples of state-of-the-art, demos, and business applications parts.

The possibility of making demos and showing off the capabilities of AI in the browser, thanks to TensorFlow.js and ml5.js, have changed the landscape for teaching this subject with gentle intro tools.  If you're willing to do the hacking work, of course, which I was/am!  Time allowing when grading and answering student emails about missing the quiz deadline.

OpenVis Conf 2018, in Paris!

While I was with the school, I also organized and co-chaired (with Arvind Satyanarayan) the program for OpenVis Conf in Europe for the first time!  It was more work than expected, due to the logistics of being out of Boston and in a foreign business climate, but the conference was largely deemed a success.  The videos are up on our web site.

We are thinking of taking a year off to re-group for the future of the conference, because I've left my academic job, Arvind just started teaching at MIT, and Irene Ros (founder of the conference) is also in a new job.

Writing About (Fun) Tech

In the past year, I wrote a number of articles either recapping conference talks I gave or hawking for OpenVis.  I used Medium rather than this blog, as you may have noticed.  My articles are here:

  • My AI-Art Talk for Resonate: A quick overview of some code-art-generator projects I wrote for a conference I never went to, using visuals and text to make a kind of visual poetry.

I also have an occasionally-ongoing series of posts and a newsletter about "Things I Think Are Awesome," which are online projects (usually) that are creative, interesting, make me smile, and distract me from politics right now.  You can find the Medium posts on my page and the tinyletter signup here.  I keep trying to cheer up enough to write another one, but it's been a tough year in politics and work.

Research Code Work & Talks

Some of my project work alone or with colleagues at the business school included:

  • Scraping french job ads to analyze the skills requested in the text (we stored in Mongo and then indexed in ElasticSearch for a web search interface).
  • Collecting Instagram and Twitter posts on various "brand" topics to analyze the images posted with them: I used both Google and Amazon image recognition APIs to compare and test them, and also had students help label subsets to test retraining a tensorflow model (it did quite well on some types)
  • Collecting Tweets on various topics for NLP analysis for messages about "brands" (I also gave these to students to analyze for my NLP course)
I was also the co-founder and head of development for a Data R&D Institute at the business school, with a significant pedagogical and outreach focus; but this Institute was shut down after one year when they launched a new AI Institute focused on business and social science research in AI.

My talk slides that don't get turned into blog posts usually live here.  I gave a number of invited talks in the past couple of years.  My updated resume lists some of them.  I'll be fixing up the web site gradually too!


One of the main reasons I wanted to be in Europe for a few years was for weekend travels.  I post my pics on Instagram.

Now I'm off to other things...!  I still have French residence for a few years, but may move due to taxes and relatively low tech salaries in France. We'll see what the future holds.